All posts by David Evans


What Do You Love?

I haven’t written as much lately as I’d like because my institution is in the midst of a very challenging year, which has taken a great deal not only of my time but of my mental energy, some of which I used to channel into considering issues to write about for this blog. This predicament, along with some recent conversations with friends and colleagues, has made me reflect again on the question of vocation and how one’s love of one’s work can provide sustenance through challenging times.

It’s sa…


Rising Prices, Sinking Revenues?

I have had money on my mind all year. There are a variety of reasons for my preoccupation, including some new fiscal challenges on my own campus and the conversations I’ve had with people in my professional network.

One thing I’ve been doing a lot is looking back on my faculty career and thinking about what I wish I had known about institutional finances and the overall picture of higher education’s economic future. A recent article by Kevin Kiley at Inside Higher Ed answers a number of question…


Understanding Institutional Debt

I’ve written about what job candidates should know about endowment spending and its effect on a college’s or university’s overall budget. In these difficult and complicated financial times, candidates must understand the basics of institutional finances to avoid stepping into a disastrous situation and to become effective campus citizens who, once on board, can contribute to governance and planning in an informed way.

Beyond endowments, another key component of institutional finances is debt. In…


Flexible Faculty Careers

I recently returned from the Council of Independent Colleges’ Chief Academic Officers Institute, the annual meeting of vice presidents for academic affairs and provosts at small and medium-size private colleges in the United States and a smattering of international locations. This is one of my favorite meetings of the year because hundreds of people who face similar challenges get together to discuss how to solve them, or at least deal with them, and we tend to speak a common language fostered b…


Sustainable Hiring

I recently attended the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, in Los Angeles, which got me thinking about some of the ways the sustainability movement has affected academic hiring.

To me, as an academic leader, one of the most interesting things about the AASHE conference was how clearly it showed that sustainability as a discipline is, to borrow a term, a “digital native.” Much of the conference took place via social media, and it was ap…


Endowment ABC’s for Job Seekers

As I’m sure has been evident from my recent entries, I did a lot of reading on professional issues this summer. I’d like to recommend Victor E. Ferrall Jr.’s recent book, Liberal Arts at the Brink (Harvard University Press, 2011). Ferrall’s subject is the perilous future of small liberal-arts colleges in particular, but he discusses the financial forces that are behind many of the challenges facing small private colleges in general.

I have urged job seekers to pay close attention to the financia…


The Power of Institutional Culture and ‘Saga’

(Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user Albion Europe ApS.)

I have worked at four institutions that have had very distinct cultures, each with strengths and weaknesses that had and have a significant effect on the texture of daily life on the campus. In my current role I think a lot about our culture and how to work with and within it to strengthen the university and the opportunities we provide for faculty, staff, and students.

This year we’ve brought a large number of new faculty, deans…


The Professor and the Would-Be Monk

This summer my wife and I participated in a seminar on vocation in higher education. One of the readings was Pierre de Calan’s Cosmas, or the Love of God. We and our colleagues found this book provocative and helpful in thinking about the role of vocation in higher education and how an intense vocational drive may not actually line up very well with what one thinks one’s vocation to be.

In Cosmas, the title character believes that God has called him to become a monk in a Cistercian abbey. He arr…


A Lesson From Charlottesville

Along with most everyone in higher education, I have followed the drama surrounding the dismissal and reinstatement of Teresa A. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, with great interest. My interest is compounded by the fact that I did my graduate work at UVa.

The whole incident raises so many complicated issues about how colleges and universities are managed that I suspect we’ll be discussing it for a long time. In fact, one of our faculty members here, who is pursuing a doctorate…


The Rhetoric of Administration

I want to follow up, somewhat belatedly, on Rob Jenkins’s recent On Hiring post, “Buzzwords that Belittle.” I was intrigued by Rob’s discussion, and by the surprising level of controversy that followed in the comments section, which reveal just how complicated and vexed relationships between faculty and administration can become.

Of course, I write from the perspective of an administrator, but I hope I haven’t forgotten my faculty roots. Like Rob, in my faculty days I was often put out by our ad…